Megan Willome loves A Christmas Carol – and you will, too.
Megan Willome has whipped up a new holiday recipe. Take a 179-year-old Christmas Classic that everyone thinks they know backward and forward. Add illustrations by an artist (Arthur Rackham) considered to have been one the leaders in the Golden Age of British Illustration. Annotate the text (enlist Sara Barkat for that), but do it subtly and unobtrusively, with the notes at the end. Provide some historical background. Write a poem about the text and suggest a poetry prompt. Provide some questions for journaling or a book discussion group.
Mix together well, and – voila! – you create A Christmas Carol: Illustrated and Annotated, With an Invitation from Author Megan Willome.
What a delight this text is!
I’ve read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens several times, most recently about eight years ago. I know the story; I’ve seen the film and stage versions. Willome says she wasn’t sure if it’s the book or the movie A Muppet Christmas Carol she loves more. I like the Muppets, but my favorite film version is Scrooge, the 1970 film version starring Albert Finney, Sir Alec Guinness, Sir Kenneth Moore, and Dame Edith Evans (and yes, you don’t have to remind me; most of the actors have since passed away, including the one who played Tiny Tim.) I can sing the songs; I know exactly when Isabel Fezziwig will toss the engagement ring in Scrooge’s money scales, and I keep hoping Scrooge will stop her.
As Willome rightly points out, this is what Dickens has wrought with his 1843 classic. Inspired by the works of two Americans (Clement Moore and Washington Irving), Dickens reinvented Christmas as a British and then worldwide cultural phenomenon. His story of the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, haunted by the ghosts of Christmas, speaks to us today because it’s timeless.
Willome is the author of Rainbow Crow: poems in an out of form and The Joy of Poetry: How to Keep, Save & Make Your Life with Poems. She’s been an editor at Tweetspeak Poetry as well as a writer for several magazines, including Rock & Vine, WACOAN Magazine, and Magnolia Journal. She’s an ardent cyclist and tea drinker (although I’m not sure which one she’s more ardent about). She lives with her family in Texas.
You may have read A Christmas Carol before, but you should reread it and use this edition, too. I spent the first half of the short novel smiling in pleasure and remembrance. I spent the last chapter in tears. It’s a redemption story, a story of an old man redeemed from anger and hurt and personal misery and miserliness.
It had been too long since I read it last, but something about this edition made me glad I’d waited. Perhaps it’s knowing the editor is a poet, one who grasped the essential poetry of the story. Maybe it’s how well informed this edition of the story is. Or perhaps it’s simply knowing that Willome loves A Christmas Carol as much as I do, and she makes it come alive again.
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